Recipes from Julie Van Rosendaal: Spooky treats to conjure the Halloween spirit

Whether or not trick-or-treating is part of your weekend plans, we all need to eat, and these pies, 'meat hands' and fried-dough treats will make Halloween a bit more festive.

Meat Hands, terri-fried dough and a Jack Skellington pie are on the menu to make the season a bit more festive

This is Julie's infamous 'meat hand,' reported to be frighteningly delicious. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Halloween enthusiasts around the world are coming up with creative ways to celebrate this weekend by rigging up candy chutes, digging up long tongs, or assembling individual treat bags on outdoor tables for trick-or-treaters to grab and go.

Many of us have found that taking part in our usual holiday traditions is a vital way to mark the passage of time, and can support our mental health during a pandemic.

And while we're spending more of our time at home, it makes sense to dedicate some toward more elaborate dishes that we may have been too rushed for in previous years.

Whether or not trick or treating is part of your weekend plans, we all need to eat — here are a few seasonal treats to make Halloween a bit more festive.

Terri-fried Dough

These doughnuts resemble Edvard Munch's The Scream, and are best dredged in icing sugar or cinnamon sugar. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

I came across doughnuts resembling Edvard Munch's The Scream recently on the internet, only they were made with that soft biscuit dough that comes in a tube.

They're so much tastier made with from-scratch yeasted doughnut dough. Sprinkle them with icing sugar or douse in cinnamon-sugar while they're still warm.


  • 2 tsp (or 1 pkg) active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water or milk
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened or melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • canola oil, for cooking
  • icing or cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling


In a large bowl stir a big pinch of the sugar and the yeast into the water or milk and leave for five minutes, until it starts to foam.

Add the flour, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and salt, and knead until you have a soft dough.

Continue to knead (or use the dough hook on your stand mixer) for seven to eight minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or two, until doubled in size. If you want to make it ahead of time, refrigerate the dough for up to 12 hours to slow the rise.

When you're ready to fry them, divide into 10 pieces and roll each into an oval. Cut a mouth and some eyes — I used the end of a large icing bag tip for the mouth, and a chopstick and my finger for the eyes.

Remember that the dough will swell as it cooks, so make the holes larger than you'd like them to be.

Heat an inch or two of canola oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until it's hot, but not smoking (350 F is ideal if you have a thermometer — otherwise test with a scrap of dough or bread to see if it bubbles).

Cook a few pieces of dough at a time, without crowding the pan, for a minute or two per side and until golden.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, then sprinkle with icing sugar or cinnamon sugar (put it in a baking
dish or pie plate) while still warm.

Makes about 1½ dozen doughnuts.

Jack Skellington Pie

Jack Skellington is the pumpkin king of Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

I love making this pie on Halloween.

You could, of course, make a Jack Skellington face on top of any pie, but berries with darker colours have a more dramatic effect.

If you want a pie that doesn't bubble up through the eyes and mouth, cook the filling first.

Crust Ingredients:

  • Pastry for a double crust pie

Filling ingredients:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 cups blueberries or saskatoon berries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into bits (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Divide the pastry in half, making one piece slightly larger than the other.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece out into a 12-inch circle.

Transfer to a pie plate and gently fit it in, without stretching.

In a medium bowl, toss the sugar and cornstarch to get rid of any lumps of cornstarch; add the berries. (if they're frozen, don't thaw them), and the lemon juice.

Pour into the pie plate and dot with butter.

Roll out the remaining pastry, making a circle slightly larger than your pie plate.

Cut rough holes for the eyes and nose, and make the mouth with the tip of a knife, without cutting all the way through.

Transfer to the top of the pie and trim the excess crust around the edge of the pie plate, pinching the pastry together to seal and pressing down all the way around with the tines of a fork.

Bake for about one hour, or until the pie is deep golden and the juices have thickened.

Serves 8.

Meat Hand

The edible 'hand sanitizer,' pictured right, is made of water, onion, garlic, jalapeño, sugar, vinegar and cornstarch. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Meat hand became tradition at least a decade ago — it can be made with any meatloaf mixture, or just straight-up ground meat or Beyond Meat.

Shape it into a hand on a parchment-lined sheet, brush with barbecue sauce (or your own concoction of ketchup,
brown sugar and mustard) and bake until done.

The fingernails, potato wrist bone and sticky, ketchup-y glaze completes the look — and makes it taste delicious.

To make edible "hand sanitizer" (for effect, not for use to actually sanitize hands), simmer about ½ cup water with a chunk of onion, clove of garlic and halved jalapeño (to infuse it with flavour), until it reduces to about 1/3 cup.

Strain, return to the saucepan and stir in ¼ cup white vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp cornstarch.

Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and turns clear.

(Add more water if it gets too thick.)

Meat Mixture Ingredients:

  • 1½ - 2 lb ground beef or a combination of ground beef and pork
  • ½-1 cup fresh bread crumbs (optional)
  • ½ cup tomato sauce or ketchup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pieces of onion, for fingernails
  • 1 small potato, for the wrist bone

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine the meat, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce or ketchup, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper with your hands, just until combined.

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, shape the meat mixture into a hand shape, with a wrist and part of an arm, if you like.

Make the fingers slightly bigger than normal, as the meat will shrink as it cooks.

Cut pieces out of a small onion, separating the layers to make fingernails.

Peel and cut the end off the potato, then cut a round piece out of the flat end with a paring knife and stick it in the wrist end of the meatloaf, wrapping meat around it roughly so that it's enclosed but partially sticks out.

To make the glaze, stir the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard together in a small bowl.

Bake the meat hand for about an hour, brushing with the glaze halfway through and toward the end, until the meat is cooked through and the surface darkened and sticky.

Serve, if you like, on a bed of mashed potatoes.

Serves 6.

Listen to Julie's full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener here:


Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.